It may seem like they’ve been around forever. And, for many of us, it may seem as if we couldn’t live without them. But, mobile apps only became mainstream around 2008. A study from a few years back suggested the average person uses 9 apps per day. I am sure that number has grown, and will continue to grow. Apps likely dot the landscape of your smartphone screen. As we’ve discussed in the past, clutter and disorder contribute to stress and anxiety.

Like items in our home, on our desktop, and in our overall workspace, mobile apps need some organization. Whether searching for a shopper rewards app in the checkout line, or trying to find the Excel app to review a report, no one wants to waste time scrolling through a seemingly endless array of tiny icons searching for the right application. With a little thought and some folder groupings, your mobile apps can be intuitively, easily accessed.

Unique to the Way You Think and Work

There are so many ways to organize your apps. The key is to consider your interaction with each app, and to organize them in a way that makes sense to you. In most cases, having a few folders containing similar apps will serve as a good “filing system.”

Some folders that might make sense to a majority of us include: a folder for games – the ones we play and/or the ones our children play when they hijack our phone; a “Productivity” folder that might contain the apps for Evernote, Scannable, our To Do List App, etc.: an Office folder for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe, etc.; a “Personal Finance” folder to house banking and investment account apps; a “Social” folder for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and similar apps; and/or a “Shopping” folder for all those retail apps we’ve come to depend on for savings and rewards.

On your iPhone, You can create a folder on your phone by pressing on an app until the tiny “x” appears in the corner. You create the folder by dragging it on top of another app. This will put both of the apps in the same folder. You can then change the name of the folder by tapping the folder.

Frequently Used Apps Should Be Readily Accessible

You will want to keep the apps you use most frequently out of folders for easy access. For example, a friend of mine likes to start his truck and have it warming up (or cooling down, depending on the time of year) before he gets in it. So, he has his Chevrolet app front and center. Another friend likes to track her exercise and diet down to the meal-level. So, for her, it makes sense to have her My Fitness Pal app a short click away.

You will also want to keep the apps you use less frequently off of the first page of apps on your phone. For example, I do not travel very often. So, my travel apps are on the second page of my app screens. Frequent travellers may want to have their airline and travel apps in a folder on their first screen. When you are taking the time to organize your apps, delete the ones you no longer find useful or entertaining.

Don’t Let Apps Distract You

While we’re on the topic of apps, let’s talk about a challenge related to their use and design: distraction. As useful and often time saving as apps can be, app notifications can be a distraction that results in a loss of productivity. Where possible, I suggest you turn off app notifications. In some cases, having the app email you relevant data may make sense. In other cases, using apps that add a visual “badge” to the icon to indicate a message, may suit you. When you’re ready to review feedback from your app, you can scan the icon or check your email when you are processing the day’s email.

Fifty years ago, written advice for organization might have included how to set up a rolodex. Twenty-five years ago we might have been talking about how to organize systematic faxing. Ten years ago? Maybe the organization of electronic documents. But today, we’re talking apps. And, regardless of the tool, the concept is the same: with great technological advances, organization is still needed to reduce stress and anxiety and contribute to greater productivity.

What do you think we’ll be writing about 10 years from now? I’d love to hear from you!

Sara Genrich is an Organization and Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop.  She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.

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